Deadlock on both sides of the water
In today’s blog I share my thoughts on two of the main political struggles within Europe at the moment: the formation of the first Spanish Government coalition and the Conservative leadership contest in the UK.
Spanish Government coalition
Politics in Spain is confusing at the best of times. But now that there is an obligation to carve out a Spanish Government coalition – the first in its relatively young democratic history – the cat has been truly set among the pigeons.
There is pressure on certain camps, both on the left and the right, to align themselves with what would ordinarily be a political opponent; all in the name of achieving a majority in parliament and installing a (hybrid) government for the first time since the snap General Election on 28th April.
This is proving to be a dilemma for some ministers, who feel that teaming up with the enemy compromises their own party’s “integrity” and means they must stray from their core values.
“Government of cooperation”
The current state of play is that Sánchez’s centre-left PSOE party, technically the “winners” of April’s General Election (but lacking an outright majority to remain in office), is negotiating with the anti-austerity far-left party, Unidas Podemos, to achieve a so-called “government of cooperation”.
Which sounds rosy, doesn’t it? The reality, of course, is that there are undertones of discontent on both sides as they clash on what to do on social issues, the economy and even what roles each party’s ministers would be given in the new coalition.
The acting Prime Minister has offered Pablo Iglesias’ Unidas Podemos mid-level government positions, but the latter has threatened to withdraw his support for the PM’s investiture (tentatively scheduled for around 16th July) if his own ministers do not get Cabinet roles and the representation he feels his party deserves.
Conservative leadership head-to-head
In the UK, things are a little clearer, if not somewhat farcical. In a Conservative leadership race that has been more “Britain’s Got Talent” than “Britain’s Got a Leader” – with several rounds of voting, live shows, scandals and cringe-worthy highlights – the right-wing party has finally declared it a two-horse race.
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have survived five rounds of internal voting emerge as the two top candidates to replace former-PM, Theresa May.
After a month of back-stabbing, posturing, showmanship, PR sins and wins, social media rants – essentially, modern politics in a nutshell! – the race is on to take the UK’s top job, with the announcement of the winning candidate set for 23rd July.
Having seen what's gone on since 2016 in UK politics, I can't say I'm surprised that this Conservative leadership race has come about and that Theresa May was forced out (I think she was actually pretty gutsy to hang in there for as long as she did).
What does annoy me a little, though, is that this internal battle for leadership is detracting from the main issue at hand, which is to deliver Brexit (remember that?).
British people have been made to wait long enough for some kind of resolution and this seems like a very convenient way to stall the matter yet further. Hopefully I'm wrong.
In terms of the Spanish Government coalition, you might think that they should take some inspiration from the UK coalition formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats back in 2010... but, if you remember, that didn't work out too well.
Both protagonists in said coalition had public political breakdowns and have now left politics. David Cameron was recently hired by a US artificial intelligence firm and Nick Clegg is Head of Global Affairs at Facebook. Both quite fittingly ironic, of course.
What do you think of these two current political situations? Are you as fed up with politics as most people seem to be? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!